LOS ANGELES (AP) — The suspect in a string of arsons in the Los Angeles area is also under investigation in his home country of Germany for a house fire days before he traveled to the United States in October, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Harry Burkhart, 24, is suspected of setting more than 50 arson attacks over New Year’s weekend that caused an estimated $3 million in damage. Authorities said they believe he was angry over his mother’s legal troubles and went on a nighttime rampage of burning parked cars a day after she made an initial court appearance last week.
Burkhart is being investigated in connection with an Oct. 14 house fire in the Marburg area north of Frankfurt, Germany, Marburg prosecutors’ spokeswoman Annemarie Wied told The Associated Press Wednesday.
Wied said that the fire at the house, which belonged to the Burkhart family, has been ruled an arson. Burkhart did not live in the area, but his name surfaced as a suspect after he filed an insurance claim shortly after the fire, Wied said.
“When one files an insurance claim on a house the same day it burns down, it raises eyebrows,” she said.
Burkhart, whom Wied identified only as “Harry B.” in keeping with German privacy laws, has not yet been questioned in the case and no arrest warrant has been issued for him. She said she did not know how long ago he had been identified as a suspect in the arson investigation.
Burkhart was in Los Angeles by Oct. 26 – 12 days after the Marburg area fire – according to U.S. court papers, which say that he went with his mother on that day to the German consulate to renew his passport.
Burkart is being held without bail in Los Angeles.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)